William B. Gorham (c1784-7 – 16 May 1851)

William B. Gorham was a son of John Gorham and grandson of Thomas Gorham.  He is treated here because one of his children married my great-great-great-grandmother’s sister, who figures in my Baird genealogy – and because it was necessary for me to sort out the multiple William Gorhams in the area in order to identify the other William Gorham, his uncle, from whom I’m descended.

His birth year is approximate.  He is in the 1830, 1840 and 1850 censuses of Robertson County, Tennessee. In 1830 his age is 40-50, in 1840 it is 50-60, and in 1850 it is given as 62. However, his gravestone gives his death in 1851 “aged about 68 years”.   I think the gravestone age is probably overstated since he was likely the male aged 16-26 in John Gorham’s 1810 household in Fayette County.

The reason we know he was a son of John Gorham is that William B. Gorham’s grandson, Samuel J. T. Gorham, wrote a newspaper article (referenced in the chronological citation files) that his great-grandfather “Jack Gorham was one among the pioneer settlers in Fayette County, Kentucky”. This “Jack Gorham” was certainly John Gorham, the eldest son of Thomas Gorham, for the article goes on to say that he came from Loudoun County, Virginia and settled in Fayette County, where Samuel J. T. Gorham visited his grave located “four miles north of Lexington” very near John Gorham’s land purchase in 1799. The article goes on with a fair amount of detail regarding his grandfather, William B. Gorham, who lived in Fayette County but “came to Tennessee, married, settled on a tract of land about one mile southwest of Springfield…built a mill on Sulphur Fork and also established a tan yard at Springfield…was a crack rifle shot…

William B. Gorham moved just south of his Kentucky relatives into Robertson County, Tennessee.  He bought 100 acres there on 11 March 1818.1   He bought an additional 357 acres on 15 January 1821 which he sold in 18272 and bought an adjacent 63 acres in two transactions over the next few years.3  He also appears to have purchased 330 acres in the same area, the acquisition of which I have not found, but which is referenced in several later transactions.   All or most of his land was located just west of Springfield on the road leading west from Springfield to Port Royal, and included “Gorham’s Old Mill” as early as 1827.4  Goodspeed’s history of the county mentions a permit for the mill which I did not find in the county records.

He had apparently been in Robertson County as early as 18 January 1815, as an agreement of that date is referenced in a deed dated 16 May 1834, from the town commissioners of Springfield to William B. Gorham for 2 ½ acres “being part of the public land of the town of Springfield…now occupied and known as Gorham’s Tanyard”.5  The deed was apparently executed to permit Gorham to sell the property, as in a deed dated the same day he sold this lot and tan yard to Daniel Clark.((Robertson County Deed Book Y, p9.))  He had also sold his original 100 acres to Clark four days earlier.6

On 30 October 1835, William B. Gorham mortgaged his remaining land to William Seal, the clerk of court.7  Gorham had been appointed guardian of Michael Traughber (see TRAUGHBER papers) in 1829, and had posted a substantial bond.   His security, John Hutchinson, was also security for two overdue notes by Gorham which were then being considered by the Superior Court.  The mortgage was for the purpose of protecting Hutchinson should he be accountable for the notes. This evidently did not occur, for William B. Gorham continued to hold title to the land.

Settlement with the children his marriage to Mary Gunn

He continued to operate the mill until about 1850, though the 1850 census lists his occupation as “farmer”.   He then made a settlement with the children of his first marriage.   On 25 February 1851, he made a deed of gift “for the love and affection I entertain for my children” to four children of his land in Robertson County “on which I formerly lived and on which I had my mill”.8  The consideration for the gift was that these children relinquish all claims on his estate.  The four children executed a deed the same day acknowledging the consideration and accepting the gift.9  These children are named as Emily L. Braden (wife of Daniel P. Braden), James T. Gorham, John W. Gorham, and Priscilla E. Yates (wife of John L. Yates).  On the same date, John W. Gorham purchased the interests of the other three children for $500 each.10

That these children were a “first family” is shown by the deposition of Daniel P. Braden, his administrator in September 1851.11  Braden testified that William B. Gorham “died intestate in the spring of the present year” and that “the said William B. Gorham was twice married and before his death he made provision for the children by his first marriage and none but his widow and his children by his last marriage are entitled to his estate.” The deposition goes on to name James Gunn as the grandfather of the four Gorham children of the first marriage.

That the first wife was Mary (Polly) Gunn is shown by a later record. Reverend James Gunn died testate on 14 May 1849, but his will was declared invalid. A petition to divide the estate of James Gunn shows that William B. Gorham’s first wife was Polly Gunn, daughter of James Gunn, and that her children and heirs were John W. Gorham, James T. Gorham, Emily L. Gorham (wife of Daniel P. Braden), and Priscilla Gorham (wife of John L. Yates).12  A copy of the Gunn family Bible is in the Robertson County library, shows Mary (Polly) Gunn’s birth date as 18 February 1799.  She apparently died sometime between 1830 and 1835, as she seems to be in the 1830 census household of William B. Gorham, and the youngest daughter seems to have been born in 1829 or 1830.

The second marriage to Priscilla Pope

The second family was by his second wife Priscilla Pope, whom he must have married around 1835, as their first child was born in 1836.  Her father, William Pope, died intestate in 1845 and his heirs included William B. Gorham and his wife “Priscilla Gorham, formerly Pope.”13 The will of Sally Pope, his widow, dated 15 November 1861, leaves one-ninth of her estate to her daughter Priscilla Gorham.14  This is further confirmed by a letter from a granddaughter, Sue Hendley, to Jean Durrett in 1970, stating that her grandmother was Priscilla Pope.15  Finally, the Benton Bible mentioned below gives Priscilla Pope’s birth date as 10 June 1808. [I have seen a descendant’s claim that Priscilla Pope was first married to a Foreman, but I do not know the source of this and did not see anything in the county records to support it.]

Settlement of his estate

Daniel Braden filed the widow’s provision and an estate sale in late 1851 and a final settlement in 1855.16  The dower land was laid off to Priscilla Gorham in early 1852 as 83 acres “including the dwelling house where W. B. Gorham lived.”17   Four of the heirs petitioned to divide the land on 2 October 1853, represented by their guardian L. J. Henry: Susan C., Sally, Victoria, and B. Gorham.18  On 6 March 1866, James and Margaret Woodard sold land to the heirs of William B. Gorham, naming them as Susan M. Cook, Sarah A. Cook, Caroline Jones, T. M. Gorman, Victoria Benton, and B. V. Holman.19

William B. Gorham is buried in the Walton-Cook Cemetery, where his gravestone reads “died 16 May 1851 aged about 68 years”.20  Priscilla Gorham (10 June 1808 – 6 May 1875) is buried next to him and his daughter Susan and her husband are buried nearby.   Samuel J. T. Gorham’s article referenced above says “he died on May 16, 1851 and was buried on the farm now owned by C. W. Cook., one of his grandsons.”

The first four children below are his children by Mary Gunn, and the last six are his children by Priscilla Pope. From the 1830 and 1840 census records, there appears to have been another daughter of the first marriage who died after the 1840 census and who is not mentioned in any of the settlements.

  1. James T. Gorham (c1817 – aft1860) James, probably named for his mother’s father, was clearly the black sheep of this family. On 25 February 1851, the same day that his father deeded his mill to the children, James T. Gorham sold his interest to his brother John W. Gorham for $400.21  Daniel Braden’s deposition referenced above was for the purpose of attaching James T. Gorham’s interest in the estate of his grandfather James Gunn. James had defaulted on a number of notes, for $440 of which his father was security, and Braden was attempting to protect the estate of William B. Gorham from James Gorham’s creditors. James also had defaulted on a $112 note to his father.

    The deposition states that James T. Gorham had “for many years” resided in Kentucky but “has recently removed with his family to the state of Missouri…” It describes him as “loose and wayward in his conduct” and “for many years most hopelessly insolvent and entirely unable to pay his debts…a wayward boy (who) did not improve in his habits in more mature years and consequently caused his father much trouble of mind as well as loss of means…” Braden also deposed that James Gorham had no interest in his father’s estate, having already agreed to a settlement (see above).  A Tennessee website listing 1831-1850 penitentiary inmates lists James T. Gorham of Robertson County, age 18, jailed for burglary.22  This must have been in the mid-1830s.

    He was apparently the James Gorham in the 1850 census of Logan County, Kentucky, age 33 with a wife Ophelia and several children. In late 1852 the Robertson court ordered that the portion of James Gunn’s estate due to James Gorham be turned over to Braden to settle James’ debt to the William B. Gorham estate. He seems almost certainly to be the J. T. Gorham in the 1860 census of Boone County, Missouri with the youngest child from 1850, a wife now named Nancy and several small children. He gave his age as 33 in 1850 and 42 in 1860.

  2. John W. Gorham (c1819 – 1893) John may have been named for his grandfather.  He first married Sally Ann Johnson about 1840 and had one child, Mary E. Gorham.  Sallie Ann died about that time, as John W. Gorham married Lydia Traughber by license issued 21 May 1843.23  Several years later the 1852 will of Henry Johnson bequeathed $200 to Mary E. Gorham, daughter of Sallie Ann Gorham, deceased.24   John W. Gorham is in the 1850 census as a hotel keeper, with his wife Lydia Traughber and three children in the household: Mary E. (9) from the first marriage and Robert (6), and Monterey (3) from the second marriage.  Also in the household is his wife’s younger brother William Traughber Jr.

    Several letters from John W. Gorham to his sister-in-law Mary Elizabeth Traughber Baird are transcribed on the BAIRD pages of this site. The Gorhams left Robertson County in 1854 to move several miles west into Stewart County, Tennessee where he worked as a clerk in the ironworks.25   They are in adjoining Montgomery County in the 1860 census, and in 1870 they are living with their son Robert across the state line in Marshall County, Kentucky. In 1880 they are back in Stewart County, Tennessee. An old newspaper article by one of his nephews, Samuel J. T. Gorham, states: “Major John W. Gorham…was my half-uncle and your great uncle.  He was a good Christian man and a well-posted man on the Bible and many other subjects.  Have heard him repeat passage after passage of scripture and have often wondered why he was never called on by the Lord to preach.  He was a natural orator, a good stump speaker, and also a bookkeeper…Have heard him say that he never had the opportunity to attend school but three days in his like. He helped to fight the Indians in the Florida Indian war.  Kept a tavern in Springfield for some time.  He died in Russellville, Kentucky in 1893 and was buried there.26

    More detail on this family is in the page on William Traughber.

    Censuses indicate that John W. Gorham and Lydia Traughber had one daughter and three sons. The 1880 letter written by John W. Gorham to Lydia’s sister speak only of Lydia’s “three boys”, who are called “Bob”, “Curn”, and “Newton”. [The “Molly” mentioned in the letter is probably John W. Gorham’s daughter, Mary E. Gorham, by his first wife.]

    2.1. Mary E. Gorham (c1841 – c1895)  The only child of the first marriage, she married William Francis Marberry on 7 September 1857.  They are in the 1860 and 1870 censuses of Calloway County, Kentucky with a son John Francis Marberry and daughters named Monterey and Ellina (Eveline?).  By 1880 they were in Stephens County, Texas and had acquired a third daughter named Blanch.   Mary was dead by the 1900 census when Mayberry was enumerated in Ft. Worth with a wife of three years named Annie.

    2.2. Robert T. Gorham (6 May 1844 – 20 January 1928) He is buried in Stewart County’s Boyd Memorial Cemetery. His wife’s stone identifies her as Emma Stone Gorham (1861-1936) whom he must have married about 1871 according to the 1900 census. In 1880 they were enumerated in a separate household in Stewart County with no children. According to the 1900 census, only two children were alive at that time, both of whom are also buried in the Boyd cemetery: Robert Edward Gorham (21 Aug 1880 – 22 December 1932) and Newton Sydney Gorham (28 November 1881 – 9 August 1909). Robert T. Gorham served in the CSA, applying for a pension for his service in the 1st and 2nd Kentucky Cavalry.27  He appears as a private on a muster roll of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry and as a sergeant on muster rolls of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry.

    2.3.  W. Monterey Gorham (c1846 – 1860s?) She is in the 1850 census as Monterey (age 3) and in the 1860 household as W. M. (age 13). She apparently died in her teens, for there appears to be no marriage record for her and she is not in the 1870 household. Her father’s letters mention the three sons, but do not even hint at a living daughter.

    2.4.  Caronel Joseph G. Gorham (1852 – 1913) His gravestone in Stewart County’s Boyd Memorial Cemetery gives his date of birth as 1850, which is contradicted by every census record, all of which point to a birth in 1852. In the census of 1860 he was enumerated as “C. J. G.” Gorham (age 8), while in 1870 he was called “Caronel G.” (17), and in 1880 was “J. G.” (27). His father’s letter of 1880 calls him “Curn” but in 1900 and 1910 he was enumerated as “Joseph G.” (born July 1852). He married Mary C. “Mollie” Boyd (1857-1934) in Stewart County on 10 December 1873. She is buried with him. The children attributed to him by the 1880 and 1900 censuses, most of whom are buried in the same cemetery, were: John W. Gorham (1875-1915), Maggie P. Gorham (1875-?), Robert Gill Gorham (15 April 1879-1959), Addie M. Gorham (1882-?), and Boyd Gorham (1882-?). Mary was listed in 1910 as the mother of five children, four of whom were living. Addie was evidently the deceased child, as a Gravestone for Addie G (sic) Gorham with only a birth year of 1882 is near her parents. The Boyd cemetery also has a stone for another child, James N. Gorham, who died in infancy in 1874.

    2.5.  Newton Kennedy Gorham (October 1854 – 1931) He is also buried in the Boyd Memorial Cemetery, as are his two wives. The first wife was Mattie A. Boyd (1860-1878) whom he married on 23 May 1876 in Stewart County. She died on 19 September 1878, evidently in childbirth as the Boyd Memorial Cemetery contains a gravestone for a daughter named Mattie A. who died on 6 January 1879 “age 3 mo.” Newton was a single man living in the household of his brother J. G. Gorham in the 1880 census. He married again to Mary E. Atkins (1859-1906) on 25 March 1885. The 1900 census indicates that she bore only one child who was living in 1900: a son Newton Kennedy Gorham Jr. (16 February 1894 – 22 December 1983). The census indicates she bore one other child, and a gravestone exists for a daughter named Tommie A. Gorham, who died in 1887 at the age of one year. After his second wife’s death, Newton Gorham was enumerated in the 1910 through 1930 Stewart County censuses living with his son Newton Jr.

    His middle name was Kennedy, for several records (including the1930 census) give the middle name of Newton K. Gorham Jr. as Kennedy. The son’s World War 1 draft registration card also gives his full name. His gravestone identifies him only as N. K. “Jink” Gorham. His father’s letters called him Newton.

  3. Emily L. Gorham (c1817 – ) She married Daniel P. Braden about 1832, prior to the beginning of marriage records of the county. Daniel Braden was a tailor in Springfield, a reasonably wealthy merchant, and appears often in Springfield’s records. This perhaps explains why he was appointed administrator of his father-in-law’s estate. He was one of the town’s original commissioners, a trustee of its first church, and held several public offices. I have only checked the 1850 census, which shows Daniel (47), Emily (33), Mary E. (17), William (15), Ann (13) and George (9).
  4. Priscilla E. Gorham (c1825) She was probably named for her grandmother, wife of John Gorham. She was the wife of John L. Yates according to the deed records above, but I haven’t attempted to track this family any further. She married John L Yates on 10 January 1849.28  The 1850 census shows John L. Yates (29) with several male Yates who appear to be his brothers, Priscilla E. (24) and an 8-month old daughter Melissa.
  5. Susan M. Gorham (23 November 1836 – 21 May 1915) She is listed as age 13 in the 1850 census. As Susan M. Gorham, she married William A. Cook on 3 February 1853 in Robertson County.29  Both are buried near her parents in the Walton-Cook Cemetery.30  The Benton Bible mentioned below gives her birth date as 25 November, her gravestone reads 23 November.
  6. Arena Caroline Gorham (30 July 1838 – ) She was apparently the same person as the “Arena C. Gorham” who married Eli Jones on 24 August 1854 in Robertson County.31  She was “Caroline Jones” in the 1866 deed mentioned above, and the Benton Bible gives her name as “Caroline A.”
  7. Sarah A. Gorham (30 July 1838 – 10 July 18__) She and Caroline were twins. I didn’t see a marriage record for her in Robertson County, but the Benton Bible gives her death as Sally A. Gorham Cook, with the year unreadable. The Cook mentioned above as a grandson is evidently her child.
  8. Martha Victoria Gorham (15 April 1840 – ) She was “Martha in the 1850 census but “Victoria” in the records of her father’s estate. Sue Hendley’s letter calls her “Martha Victoria”. She seems likely to have been the Martha V. Gorham who married Joseph Chapman on 26 April 185732 but was apparently married to a Benton by the 1866 reference above. A Bible confirms the two marriages (without dates), giving her second husband as Ephraim Benton.33
  9. Thomas Marion Gorham (3 October 1842 – 8 August 1913) He is listed in the 1850 census as Thomas, age 7. He is buried in the Scoggins-Gorham Cemetery of Robertson County with a gravestone reading “3 October 1842 – 8 August 1913”.34  His wife Margaret Scoggins and several children are buried in the same cemetery. The Benton Bible gives his birth year as 1843, probably incorrectly. The letter from his daughter Sue Hendley contains the full name of her father, the only source of his middle name. One of his sons, Samuel J. T. Gorham (1876-1940), was the author of the newspaper article quoted elsewhere. The 1880 census of Robertson County lists him with five children.
  10. Buena Vista Gorham (c1849 – ) According to the 1866 item above, she was the wife of John Holman.   She is not mentioned in the Benton Bible. She and her brother Thomas were the only children still in their mother’s household in the 1860 census.
  1. Robertson County Deed Book O, p74. []
  2. Robertson County Deed Book Q, p340 and Book T, p321. []
  3. Robertson County Deed Book R, p333 and Book T, p320. []
  4. Robertson County Deed Book T, p322. []
  5. Robertson County Deed Book Y, p8. []
  6. Robertson County Deed Book Y, p10. []
  7. Robertson County Deed Book U, p268. []
  8. Robertson County Deed Book 7, p26. []
  9. Robertson County Deed Book 7, p27. []
  10. Robertson County Deed Book 7, p27 and p28. []
  11. Robertson County Chancery Court Minutes, Case #32, in loose papers at Robertson County courthouse. []
  12. Robertson County Chancery Court File #191, loose papers at courthouse. []
  13. Robertson County Chancery Court File #483, loose papers at courthouse. []
  14. Robertson County Will Book 17, p562. []
  15. Copy of this letter dated 14 November 1970 provided to me by Mrs. Durrett in 1980. []
  16. Robertson County Will Book 15, p30, p104, and p757. []
  17. Robertson County Order Book 1850-1856, p44. []
  18. Robertson County Order Book 1850-1856, p125. []
  19. Robertson County Deed Book 13, p155. []
  20. Cemetery Records of Robertson County, Tennessee, Volume I, p78. []
  21. Robertson County Deed Book 7, p27. []
  22. See http://www.state.tn.us/sos/statelib/pubsvs/inmate2.htm []
  23. Robertson County Marriage Book I, p73. []
  24. Robertson County Will Book 16, p277. Will dated 14 February 1852, proved 3 July 1852. []
  25. See letter from Nancy and Mary Ferguson dated 3 December 1854, which states “John Gorham left here about 2 week of October for the Ironworks in Stewart Cty.  He is clerking there and gets $600 a year…” []
  26. Published in the Springfield (Tennessee) Herald-News in 1938. []
  27. Pension File #S16321, S16382 according to an index to Confederate pension applications. []
  28. Robertson County Marriage Book I, p167. []
  29. Robertson County Marriage Book I, p223. []
  30. Cemetery Records of Robertson County, Tennessee, Volume I, p78. []
  31. Robertson County Marriage Book I, p247. []
  32. Robertson County Marriage Book I, p289. []
  33. Bible in the possession of Wayne Benton, who provided a transcript in 2001 by email. []
  34. Cemetery Records of Robertson County, Tennessee, Volume I, p9. []